Craig Paquette has made a somewhat unexpected return to his boyhood baseball home--shortstop--this season for Golden West College.
Paquette played shortstop in youth leagues. He was the starting shortstop as a junior at Rancho Alamitos High School. But he was moved to third base as a senior and continued to play third last season at Golden West.
Paquette played third last summer in practice and also spent most of the winter practices at third. But as the winter season progressed, Golden West Coach Burt Villarreal got an idea.
“I had a feeling that we would be a better team with him at short,” said Villarreal. “I’m not sure why, but he needed to be there for us to win.”
Paquette was pleased by the move, which came a few weeks before the start of the season. Last season’s starting shortstop had graduated.
“I played shortstop all my life,” he said. “It’s not that new. The only thing new is that I give signs on who’s covering second. But that’s good. It keeps me more involved and in the game on every pitch.”
Paquette has had a bit of trouble fielding with seven errors in 18 games for Golden West (12-6). Despite the errors, Villarreal has no intention of moving Paquette back to third base.
Paquette hit .386 last season with seven home runs and 58 RBIs. He came into this season with one goal--to improve his numbers.
But as one of only two returning starters this season, Paquette said he pressed early, tried to do too much and got off to a slow start. Although he still hasn’t found any consistency, he is starting to improve. Paquette, a right-handed hitter, is batting .333 with a team-leading six home runs and 21 RBIs.
After not hitting a home run in Golden West’s first nine games, he hit two in a 6-4 loss at Cerritos. He hit two more home runs the next day as the Rustlers defeated Saddleback, 12-5.
Paquette is being recruited by Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach and Arizona State and also is considering the professional draft. Paquette was picked in the 36th round by the Minnesota Twins out of high school. He plans to sign with a college right away--the first day to sign is April 15--then wait for the draft.
“I just want to stay aggressive and keep swinging,” Paquette said. “I’m hoping to get a little more consistent.”
Jack Single has been named coach of the Saddleback women’s basketball program. Saddleback didn’t have a team last season because of a lack of players.
Single worked last fall and winter as an assistant to Ernie Carr on the men’s team. He was the boys’ basketball coach at Downey High School from 1982-88 with a record of 104-47. He still teaches there.
“The challenge of starting a program from the ground up is intriguing,” Single said. “The main thing is that we get the top girls in the area involved, bring the program back and build some credibility.”
Orange Coast’s Dareck Crane was voted by the coaches to the 20-member all-state men’s basketball team. Crane, a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard, was the co-most valuable player of the Orange Empire Conference.
Crane averaged 17.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists this season. He played at Compton High School before coming to OCC. Crane hasn’t decided where he will play next season.
Markus Muller-Stach of Golden West was an honorable-mention selection. Muller-Stach, a 6-5 forward from Corona del Mar High School, averaged 22.2 points a game this season. He has signed a national letter of intent to attend University of the Pacific next fall.
Community College Notes
Tania Ziegert, a former Golden West swimmer who is now at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, became an All-American when she finished third in the 500- and 1,650-meter freestyle in the Division II national swimming championships in Buffalo last week. Her times of 5:00.15 in the 500 and 17:13.0 in the 1,650 set school records. . . . Noble Franklin has been named the running back coach at Rancho Santiago. Franklin replaces Bruce Rollinson, who left to become football coach at Mater Dei High School . . . Outfielders Jason Young and Eddie Pierce of OCC will play for the Brewster Whitecaps this summer in the Cap Cod League for college baseball players. . . . The men’s state basketball tournament is scheduled to be played at UC Irvine next season. . . . Dion Evans and Eric Turner of Rancho Santiago have signed letters of intent to play football next fall. Evans, a running back, will play at San Francisco State. Turner, a quarterback, will play at Southwest Texas State.